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I Was Wrong About Giving Tuesday

As someone who works closely with several non-profit organizations, I am distinctly aware of Giving Tuesday.

In the United States, this Giving Tuesday “holiday” comes from an honorable desire to help non-profits continue their good work. However, there’s also an angle of manipulation, used to capitalize on a season when Americans are already spending a lot of money and feeling guilty about it.

The idea is that after several days of self-indulgence—which would often include a Thanksgiving feast, days off of work, and lots of spending—Giving Tuesday is a chance to use your resources selflessly.

When I began working on fundraising projects, I would often dread this time of year and the hectic (and sometimes annoying) campaigning that it brings. I knew that my clients’ appeals would most likely get lost in the avalanche of emails, social media posts, and phone calls that characterize Giving Tuesday. What was the point?

Why should Christians, many of whom already tithe or volunteer with their church, join the Tuesday craziness? Don’t we give enough? Isn’t it just a marketing ploy, anyway?

This year, however, I am working on one Giving Tuesday project that is very close to my heart. This non-profit creates multimedia Bible study tools which equip churches to include persons with intellectual disability.

I desperately want to see this organization reach their fundraising goal because I have seen firsthand the good that they do. And I know the leadership well; I respect their vision for the future. It’s enough to make me wonder if there’s more to Giving Tuesday than I originally thought.

Here are three reasons I’m choosing to participate this year:

 

Reason #1: To exercise my giving muscles

Have you ever heard it said that forgiveness is like a muscle in your body? “Exercising forgiveness” can be compared to exercising your body—the more you exert it, the stronger it gets and the easier the task becomes.

Giving is like that. The more we practice generosity, the easier and more natural it becomes.

A small step of faith—even if the amount you choose to give is very small—softens our hearts to be open to something bigger and better. God calls us to be people who are saturated in the habit of generosity—people who are full of kindness, goodness, and gentleness (see Galatians 5:22-23 for more on the fruit of the Spirit). And it doesn’t come naturally; we must practice and “do our exercises” with His help!

 

Reason #2: To make a difference

But we don’t just give for our own edification; we give because it truly makes a difference. This year I have seen the impact that even a small gift can make.

For the campaign I mentioned earlier, this non-profit client only needs to raise a few thousand dollars. It’s a big sum for one person, but if it were split among all the people on their mailing list, it would only amount to $2 per person. The price of a cheap cup of coffee. That doesn’t sound so bad, does it? What’s difficult is getting a few hundred people to believe that their small gift is meaningful.

Let me tell you that God can use anything—even $2, or two loaves of bread (remember the feeding of the five thousand in Matthew 14?). Paul writes to the Corinthians, “For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have” (2 Corinthians 8:12, emphasis added).

 

Reason #3: To express joyful gratitude

One of my favorite Christmas stories is Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Actually, it’s only a favorite because I know it so well; my dad watches two or three different versions of the play or movie every year without fail.

In the story, the character of old Mr. Scrooge is transformed from sour, cynical, and abrasive to giddy, hopeful, and kind. He has been given a second chance in life and sees how fortunate he truly is. Scrooge’s newfound joy is immediately translated into generosity—he showers gifts on his employee, generously tips the errand boy, and makes a large donation to a local charity. Why? Because joy is expressed in gratitude—especially when joy comes from knowing that you have been forgiven a great debt.

Friends, we have been forgiven a great debt through God’s son. Jesus told his disciples, “Freely you have received; freely give” (Matthew 10:8b). Generosity is a way for Christ-followers to gladly proclaim, “The Kingdom of heaven has come near!” (Matthew 10:7).

 

So… Giving Tuesday. It’s here. It may feel like too much, and perhaps you’ve vowed to stay offline all day just to avoid the appeals. But I encourage you to give it a try—a small gift, a generous gift, a joyful gift. It will make a difference in that organization. And it will make a difference in you.

How A Hot Cup of Cocoa Pointed Me to God

Written By Jenna Kubiak , USA

The morning breeze mercilessly blew above the walls and enveloped any brave soul standing in its path on a frigid, December morning at dawn’s break. Woolen parkas, hats, sweatpants, mittens, and fur-lined boots obscured our frail figures as my coworker McKenna and I kept our eyes glued on the swimmers gliding through the water.

The frigid atmosphere instantly changed a few minutes later. Out of the blue, a regular swimmer, Andrew, walked up to us with two cups filled to the brim with hot, sweet, soul-satisfying cocoa—a gesture of simple and pure generosity.

Surprised, we quickly thanked him for his kind gesture.

As a lifeguard, I’m used to being in the background. Every Tuesday and Thursday morning or Saturday and Sunday afternoon, I set up my chair, grab my rescue tube and waist pack, and supervise swimmers coming to the pool for their morning laps or family weekend trip. The majority of people don’t give me a second thought. I’m part of the scenery.

Andrew––a lean built gentleman of medium height in his 30s, with wire rimmed glasses and fine-cut dark hair––always arrived on the dot at 6:30 a.m., every Tuesday and Thursday. I was stunned the first time Andrew talked to me, because I had come to accept the idea that people don’t notice lifeguards. He asked us how our day was, how difficult our semesters were, and even remembered little details like our majors and grades. He was genuinely interested in our lives, made us feel like we mattered, and helped us understand that patrons valued our presence.

This man’s generosity left a mark on both McKenna and me. Andrew could have saved his hard-earned five or so dollars he spent on our drinks, yet he chose bless us, without seeking anything in return for his kindness. Through Andrew’s selfless act, we realized blessings aren’t necessarily extravagant. And I believe that God can multiply one act of generosity, and those who offer even small gifts will ultimately grow richer than anyone concerned solely about themselves. Proverbs 11:24-25 best describes the value of generosity: “One person gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty.  A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.”

In a way, Andrew’s display of generosity gave me a glimpse of God’s generosity. Just as Andrew had clearly went out of his way to bless my friend and I and expected nothing in return, God shows us kindness unconditionally.

God’s generosity towards humanity is best seen in the gift of the life of His only son, Jesus Christ—the ultimate sacrifice that enabled mankind to enjoy a relationship with our perfect, heavenly Father. 2 Corinthians 8:9 describes Jesus’ generous gift of grace, about how He became poor so we could become rich in God’s kingdom.

And even when we turn away from God and try to accomplish things on our own, He forgives all of our sins and constantly pours out mercy. His everlasting love is so great that He accepts even the lowliest in society into His eternal kingdom if they call Him their Savior.

I have personally seen God’s generosity manifest in my life through the ways He constantly provides for all my needs. He gave me additional scholarship money and ensured I had the finances to continue studying at Biola University. He also provided numerous opportunities for me to gain journalism experience and develop writing abilities that enabled me to tell others’ stories and give a voice to the voiceless. Furthermore, He blessed me with a great family and friends who continued supporting me even when they were facing their own struggles.

We do not deserve any of the wonderful blessings the Lord pours out, yet He continues showering His love on us. Each time I recall the act of generosity Andrew showed McKenna and me on that fateful December day, I remember God’s generosity. This brief yet memorable moment inspires me to intentionally bless others and look for ways to put their needs before my own.  It is truly “more blessed to give than receive” (Acts 20:35).

ODJ: Jealousy and Generosity

June 19, 2016 

READ: Matthew 20:1-15 

Is it against the law for me to do what I want with my money? Should you be jealous because I am kind to others? (v.15).

Thomas J. DeLong, a professor at Harvard Business School, has noted a disturbing trend among his students and colleagues—a comparison obsession. He writes: “Business executives, Wall Street analysts, lawyers, doctors and other professionals are obsessed with comparing their own achievements against those of others. ...I have interviewed hundreds of HNAPs (High Need for Achievement Professionals) about this phenomenon and discovered that comparing has reached almost epidemic proportions. This is bad for individuals and bad for companies [and it leads to diminished satisfaction].” It’s also especially bad for believers in Jesus.

To help His followers understand the dangers of comparison obsession and, instead, what the kingdom of heaven is like, Jesus told a parable about a landowner who hired workers to tend his vineyard. He hired workers around 6 a.m. and agreed to pay them a denarius, a day’s wage (Matthew 20:1-2). Then he hired workers at 9 a.m., noon, 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. and indicated that he would pay them what “was right” (vv.4-5).

When it was time to pay all the workers, he paid them each the same wage, a denarius. The first group he hired protested, accusing the owner of being unfair. But the owner reminded the grumblers that he could choose to be controversially and scandalously generous if he so desired (vv.13-14). Then he revealed the root of the issue—they were “jealous” of his extravagant generosity (v.15).

When God is truly reigning in our hearts, we see Him as sovereign, gracious, just and generous. There’s no room for bitter envy and unhealthy comparison. May we simply focus on the life God has given us and live with gratitude.

—Marvin Williams

365-day plan: John 3:1-21

MORE
Read Galatians 6:4-5 and see the instructions Paul gave to help us avoid comparing our work with others’. 
NEXT
How is comparison obsession more of a vertical (human to God) problem than a horizontal (human to human) problem? What are some practical things you can do to eliminate comparison obsession? 

(Check out Our Daily Journey website!)

ODJ: a generous tip

September 19, 2015 

READ: 2 Corinthians 8:1-15 

You have seen everything the LORD your God has done for you (Joshua 23:3).

In November 2014 a couple asked a waiter named Carlos for a dish that wasn’t on the menu. Having worked in restaurants themselves, they were impressed by him and how he fulfilled their request. The man asked Carlos what he would do if he had money and time. “I work two jobs. I don’t really have time,” he replied. He did, however, let on that his car needed a £1,000 (€1,370) repair job. Later, Carlos found a £1,000 tip on the table. He said to the generous couple, “Thank God for you and for what you’ve done. . . . It couldn’t have come at a much better time, so I’m eternally grateful.”

Paul called the Corinthians to the “gracious act of giving” (2 Corinthians 8:7). The poverty-stricken church in Jerusalem needed funds (8:4; Acts 11:27-30). So the apostle appealed to the affluent Gentile church in Corinth to generously support their needy Jewish brothers and sisters in the Holy City. As an example, he lifted up the churches in Macedonia who had given out of their own poverty—amid persecution and other struggles. By selflessly giving what they had, they reflected the gracious, generous ways of Jesus, who “became poor, so that by his poverty he could make [us] rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9).

The Corinthian believers were known for their gifts, the spiritual kind. Paul was now calling them to imitate Christ and pour out the financial gifts he had first requested in his previous letter (1 Corinthians 16:1-2). Their lavish giving would show their true love for God and others.

You might not be able to leave a generous tip today. But may you give generously as you acknowledge what it truly means to be “eternally grateful” for what Jesus has done for you.

—Tom Felten

365-day-plan: John 17:1-26

MORE
Read Philippians 4:15-20 and see how one of the churches in Macedonia—the church at Philippi—blessed Paul with its generosity. 
NEXT
How is generosity a sign of spiritual maturity? How has Jesus inspired you to live a more generous life? 

(Check out Our Daily Journey website!)